December 10, 2022

9 Ways Ashwangandha Can Help You

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Avanthika Nityanand

M.Sc Human Genetics, B.Sc Plant Biology & Plant Biotechnology

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9 Ways Ashwangandha Can Help You
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Ayurveda is the ancient traditional way of practicing medicine in India based on natural remedies, either through techniques or herbs. Ashwagandha is one of the prime ingredients in this system.

In ancient times, Indians depended on it to reduce stress and boost their energy and cognition.

In Sanskrit, the word ashwagandha means that which smells like a horse, which refers to its scent and function to provide energy. Other well-known names it goes by are Indian ginseng and winter cherry.

Appearance-wise, the plant is short and blooms with yellow flowers. Commonly grown in India and other southern Asian countries, it is used therapeutically for many health disorders, be it psychological or fertility ailments.

Here are nine research-based ways ashwangandha helps our health.

1. Mental Health

Studies show that ashwagandha helped treat depression and other mental disorders.

Around 66 schizophrenic individuals were given 1,000 mg of ashwagandha for 12 weeks. Compared to the group that took a placebo, the ashwangandha group had lower levels of anxiety and depression. Another study also supported its usage for schizophrenia patients, documenting a reduction in unhealthy symptoms.

While further research is needed, supplementation with ashwangandha improved cognition in people with bipolar disorder.

A study from 2012 divided stressed subjects into two groups, taking placebo and ashwangandha, respectively. The placebo group only showed a 5% decline in mental symptoms, while the ashwagandha group had a 77% dip in symptoms.

We have to note that the herb should not be a replacement for antidepressants. It is better to consult a qualified physician before supplementation or adding it to your medication.

2. Regulates Glucose Levels

A collection of studies point towards ashwagandha as a beneficial component in regulating insulin, blood sugar, and lipids in diabetes.

Withaferin A and other enzymes in ashwagandha have anti-diabetic properties, assisting in cells uptaking more glucose. We need further studies about the role of ashwagandha in regulating diabetes and glucose sugar.

3. Anxiety And Stress

Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, an ingredient that assists with reducing stress. It is well-known for its ability to reduce mental stress.

Ashwagandha might regulate cortisol, JNK-1, and other transmitters of stress.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is the center for regulating stress responses. Ashwagandha can fine-tune this positively.

Around 58 subjects supplemented with 250 or 600 mg of the herb had lower cortisol levels, a hormone specific to stress.

An alternate study involving 60 people supplemented with 240 mg of ashwagandha showed better results with their anxiety than those who took a placebo.

However, due to a lack of evidence, concluding a specific dosage for mental issues like anxiety could not be determined.

4. Sexual Health

Findings considering male sexual health were positive when treated with ashwangandha.

Over 43 overweight male individuals between the ages of 40 and 70 took either ashwagandha tablets or a placebo. An 18% increase in DHEA-S, a hormone responsible for producing testosterone, was observed in the herb group.

A collection of 4 studies documented sperms of better health regarding number and mobility after using the herb.

While the herb proves to be beneficial for reproductive health, better studies are required to establish it.

5. Improve Strength

This earthy herb may be beneficial to athletes, assisting them in boosting their stamina and quality of performance.

Individuals consuming dosages between 120 to 1,250 mg noticed an improvement in their overall performance.

A collection of five studies found that oxygen consumption (VO2) increased in athletes and non-athletes alike.

The amount of VO2 is vital for athletes as it measures the oxygen capacity of the heart and lungs. The higher the VO2, the better the performance.

Male subjects performed resistance training along with 800 mg of ashwagandha for eight weeks. The group that took the herb had higher muscle development than the placebo group.

6. Brain Health

A review of five pieces of evidence concluded that ashwagandha might improve one’s cognitive ability, particularly in the elderly and schizophrenia patients. It also observed improvements in intellectual performance, attention span, reactions, and overall functioning.

Around 50 willing subjects took 600 mg of the herb for eight weeks. The study documented improvements in attention span and memory retention.

Experts believe ashwagandha benefits the brain due to the presence of withaferin A and its antioxidant property. But more research is necessary to prove the same.

7. Anti-inflammatory

Withaferin A, a prime enzyme in ashwagandha, may reduce levels of inflammation in the body.

The enzyme reacts against specific pathways and molecules that allow the inflammation to occur. It may even decrease the number of inflammatory proteins involved, like interleukin-10 (IL-10).

C-reactive protein is an important marker that indicates inflammation within. Stressed-out individuals were given ashwagandha for 60 days, resulting in a dip in the C-reactive protein levels.

Another study involved covid-19 patients who took an Ayurvedic drug that contained 0.5 grams of ashwagandha for a week, twice a day. Reduced levels of C-reactive protein, IL-6, and TNF, are all markers of inflammation.

8. Sleep

Ashwagandha has also been known to improve sleep quality and is a well-known natural remedy for insomnia.

Around 50 adults between the age of 65 and 80 took 600 mg of the herb for 12 weeks. The herb group experienced sound sleep and better alertness upon waking, while the placebo group did not.

Ashwagandha was more effective in those with insomnia as they were less stressed and experienced restful sleep after taking 600 mg of the herb.

9. Natural And Safe

Ashwagandha is a safe herb, although tests are necessary for taking high doses for prolonged periods.

Around 80 individuals took 600 mg for eight weeks straight but experienced no ill effects from the herb.

Although safe for the general population, it does have some restrictions. Pregnant women should not take high doses, as it may cause termination of pregnancy

Also, people under certain medications like barbiturates or benzodiazepines or suffering from prostate cancer should avoid taking this herb.

It may alter the functioning of the thyroid, so getting an Ayurvedic doctor or expert’s advice is recommended if you’re suffering from thyroid.

Also, in rare cases, some have side effects like diarrhea and digestive issues upon consumption. Therefore, consultation is a must before supplementation.

Doses vary from 250 to 1,250 mg, split and taken multiple times or as a single one daily.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is an age-old herb popularly taken into practice in Ayurveda. It has heaps of medicinal benefits and is natural. Although safe, certain groups of people may not be suitable candidates to utilize the herb. Therefore, consult an expert or physician to assist you with your dosages and prescription.

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